Italy, with one of the biggest circus industries in the world, today voted to phase out ALL animals in circuses and traveling shows following a vote in the Assembly of the Parliament. Rules for implementation of the new legislation to phase out all animals in circuses will be set out within one year by a Ministerial decree. The ban has been hailed by Animal Defenders International (ADI) as a major breakthrough.
Italy is the 41st country to pass a national law prohibiting animals in circuses, with an estimated 100 circuses and some 2,000 animals, and the move is being heralded as one of the biggest victories ever in the campaign to stop circus suffering.
Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, said: “Traveling from place to place, week after week, using temporary collapsible cages and pens, circuses simply cannot provide for the needs of the animals. Through ADI’s undercover investigations we have shown the violence and abuse that is used to force these animals to obey and perform tricks. We applaud Italy and urge countries like the UK and the US to follow this example and end this cruelty.”
ADI supported the launch of the Italian circus bill, with ADI President Jan Creamer addressing a special workshop organized by the Italian group LAV at the Senate, followed by a screening of the award-winning film Lion Ark. The acclaimed film tells the story of the dramatic rescue of every circus animal by ADI in Bolivia following a ban there.
Undercover investigations by ADI inside animal circuses in the UK, Europe, US, and South America have lifted the curtain on the abuse that goes on behind the scenes in circuses leading to bans in countries as diverse as Greece, Singapore, Costa Rica, Taiwan and Colombia. In Bolivia and Peru, ADI has completed major enforcement operations, with wildlife officials and police, tracking down every circus and rescuing all the animals – approaching 200 animals were rescued and relocated.
Expert analysis of scientific evidence undertaken by Professor Stephen Harris at Bristol University last year concluded, “The available scientific evidence indicates that captive wild animals in circuses and other travelling animal shows do not achieve their optimal welfare requirements.” The report stated that “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’”.
The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) has concluded “there is by no means the possibility that their [wild mammals in traveling circuses’] physiological, mental and social requirements can adequately be met.”
The British Veterinary Association concludes that “The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus – in terms of housing or being able to express normal behaviour.
In the United States, the campaign has been accelerated by the collapse of the country’s largest animal circus Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, and ADI is calling for Congress to support the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (HR1759), a federal bill that would end the use of wild animals in traveling circuses. Introduced by Representatives Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the bill currently has 32 co-sponsors and ADI has a week of action next week calling for more.
In Scotland, the government has introduced a bill to ban wild animals in circuses which has progressed to Stage 2 for further scrutiny. ADI and local supporters are urging Members of the Scottish Parliament to back the legislation.
In Wales, the government has recently consulted on mobile animal exhibits and asked whether a ban on wild animals in circuses should be considered. ADI and local supporters submitted responses to.
In England, the government has stated that it remains committed to a ban but has given no indication as to when the legislation, drafted and scrutinized back in 2013, will be introduced.
Also, in Ireland, a private members bill to ban wild animals in circuses will be debated on November 21, 2017.